Our God Reigns!
Do you really believe that our Lord Jesus Christ reigns? What does this mean anyways? What do we mean when we say that our God reigns? The term “reign” is a political term. We often associate it with a king or a queen who “reigns” over his or her kingdom. A shorthand definition of reign is to rule. Thus the reign of Queen Victoria is the period of time over which she ruled the United Kingdom. Yet, there is more to the concept of reign that simply rulership. The word “reign” adds a sense of authority and sovereignty to the concept of rulership. This is crucial to understand the belief that our God reigns.
First, to reign implies both the power and the authority to rule over a defined area. A band of robbers might said to rule a given region even though a queen continues to reign over the country. Here the difference is between power and authority. Rulership implies the power to enforce a group’s will over a given people in a defined region. Thus a band of robbers could be understood to rule a region once they have the power to enforce their will. Even as they have the power to rule, they most certainly do not have the authority to reign over the people. When a queen reigns over her kingdom this implies first of all the authority to rule over her people and also normally includes the power to rule. Thus to reign normally implies the power to rule, but always asserts the authority to rule.
Second, to reign also includes the concept of sovereignty to the notion of authoritative rule. Note that we generally no longer use the word reign when talking about politics. The President as executive chief is said to rule over the United State but not to reign over the county. This is because, unlike a king, a president is not the sovereign of the country. The sovereign is the ultimate authority within a political system. In a democracy, the final authority is the people and thus the people are sovereign. The president is not sovereign but the elected ruler who represents the sovereign people. Traditionally, a king is not an elected ruler but is sovereign in his own right. Thus the meaning of reign normally implies the authority to rule by right of sovereignty rather than any derivative right of representation.
Once we understand the full scope of what it means to reign, we realize that most Christians only half-heartedly believe that Jesus is now reigning in our world today. Many Christians believe that Jesus is reigning in their hearts but not in their city, not in the United States, not in China.